CricViz analyst Freddie Wilde picks out Evin Lewis as one of his players to watch from the 2017 CPL.
THE NEXT CHRIS GAYLE?
Evin Lewis, 24, is arguably the most exciting batting prospect in T20. Lewis is a broad-shouldered left-handed opener with an uncomplicated technique. He idolises Chris Gayle and it is no exaggeration to say he could well be the next Chris Gayle. This CPL season Lewis opened the batting with Gayle for the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots and it was telling—and a touch poetic—that Gayle assumed an anchor role alongside his apprentice who blitzed 371 runs at 11.07 runs per over (RPO), hitting a boundary every 3.40 balls. The baton has been passed.
COMING OF AGE
Lewis was involved in the Trinidad and Tobago age-group teams and represented West Indies at the Under-19 World Cup in 2010. He burst onto the men’s circuit in the 2013 Champions League at the age of 21, scoring 211 runs at 8.49 RPO. Consistent but unspectacular seasons in the 2014 and 2015 CPL earned Lewis a contract in the Bangladesh Premier League in 2015 where he scored a hundred in his second innings and fared well against pace—8.90 RPO—but was tied down by spin—5.56 RPO.
It was not until the 2016 CPL that he begun to fulfil the potential he had shown at the CLT20 three years previously, scoring 247 runs and elevating his scoring rate to 8.71 RPO. Lewis’ good form was rewarded with selection in the West Indies T20 team against India in August. Lewis’ credentials as a prospect of serious note were confirmed in his debut innings as he blitzed 100 off 49 balls. Despite his century he was overlooked at the 2017 IPL Auction with a base price of Rs. 50 lakhs.
The last six months have seen Lewis come of age. In April against Pakistan in Trinidad he scored 91 off 51 balls in a total of 138 on a difficult pitch. In July he scored another hundred against India – his 125 not out off 62 balls is the highest score in a T20I run-chase. The 2017 CPL, and an innings of 97 not out off just 32 balls in particular, represents the apex of his career so far.
Lewis is a well-built man—1.83m tall and 85kg—but his fielding shows him to be agile and a quick across the ground which gives him good balance at the crease. A lot of his power is evidently muscular, but a solid base and still head ensure he’s a clean ball-striker. Since the start of 2016 Lewis has hit a boundary every 4.02 balls and has hit more sixes than fours.
Lewis is a prototype T20 batsman: he capitalises on the field restrictions—his Powerplay scoring rate since 2016 is 8.86 RPO—but he doesn’t slow down once the field drops back. Since the start of 2016 Lewis’ run rate after the Powerplay of 11.69 RPO is the comfortably highest of any player to have faced at least 200 balls.
Lewis appears to have overcome his early troubles with spin and since 2016 scores well above the global rate against spin at 9.63 RPO. There are still indications that he could struggle with it though, having scored 3 for 3 in 16 balls against the off spin of Steven Jacobs across two CPL seasons and 2 for 25 in 32 balls against the left-arm spin of Imad Wasim. Given his recent form it will be fascinating see him play in the BPL, where he returned for three matches in 2016, and is contracted to the Dhaka Dynamites this year.
Since 2016 his dot ball percentage of 47.3% is high but a boundary ball percentage of 24.8% ranks him among the world’s elite.
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